Playin’ around: shoes, soccer, and the power of “Buy One, Give One”

Life has a funny way of connecting the dots.

In June 2010, I bought my first pair of TOMS Shoes and set off to study abroad in Bath, England. On my second day in Bath – in between orientation sessions – fellow Denisonian Chelsea Glassmann ’12 introduced herself to me, commenting on my TOMS. She had a pair, too.

A year later, in August 2011, inspired by the simplicity of the One for One movement and the company culture of TOMS, Chelsea and I founded the Denison TOMS Campus Club. While co-leading the club, I learned to plan and promote events that championed our club’s mission: to further the One for One movement both on campus and beyond through service, fundraising, and advocacy.

My time leading the Denison TOMS Campus Club complimented my studies. It gave me hands-on experience in marketing, event planning, and lobbying for a cause. It also gave me a glimpse inside the workings of TOMS, a company that has made conscious consumerism popular, spurring a trend of companies with “One for One” and “Buy One, Give One” models.

Two months ago, TOMS launched TOMS Marketplace, a project created by the company to help extend the reach of social businesses that have a commitment to improving lives around the world. The day before the launch, I stepped into my new shoes as Marketing Assistant at One World Futbol Project, one of the companies featured in TOMS Marketplace.

Like I said, life has a funny – and fabulous – way of connecting the dots.

At One World Futbol Project, my worlds have collided in the best way. I am collaborating with and growing alongside an incredible, dynamic team in a place where my writing and creativity are allowed to soar. Even more, I am contributing to a cause and model for which I have a passion.

In 2010, the same year I bought my first pair of TOMS Shoes, Tim Jahnigen and Lisa Tarver founded One World Futbol Project in Berkeley, Calif. After watching news footage of children in Darfur playing a game of soccer with a ball of trash tied up with twine, Tim set out to design a ball that played like a real soccer ball but would never wear out, never need a pump, and never go flat.

Tim’s idea remained in concept stage until a chance conversation with world-renowned entertainer Sting, who immediately provided the support needed to research and develop a nearly indestructible ball. In recognition of Sting’s crucial, early involvement, the name of the company and the One World Futbol are based on the song “One World (Not Three),” written by Sting.

One World Futbol Project has a “Buy One, Give One” model. For every One World Futbol purchased, a second ball is donated to an organization working with children and youth in disadvantaged communities worldwide. The company also has a “Give Balls” option, where customers can simply donate nearly indestructible One World Futbols without purchasing their own.

To date, the company has distributed over 700,000 balls, reached more than 165 countries, and impacted more than 21 million youth.

In all, it’s an exciting time to be joining the team. Having started the eve of the TOMS Marketplace launch, I have had the opportunity to work on assignments that involve both One World Futbol Project and TOMS. Plus, with my Denison TOMS Campus Club experience in tow, I have started to consider what the future looks like for fans and supporters of One World Futbol Project.

Beyond the collaboration with TOMS, One World Futbol Project has a number of campaigns on the horizon – all revolve around the universal need to play and all have me buzzing.

From my experiences with TOMS and One World Futbol Project, I feel the “Buy One, Give One” model evokes a sense of community and connection. On the “Buy One” side, immediate communities are formed among fans and supporters. On the “Give One” side, TOMS Shoes and the One World Futbol promote a sense of global community, one in which we all live and play on a daily basis.

This post is a modified version of what I wrote for TheDEN on January 15, 2014.

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